Based on a true story, “Machine Gun Preacher” has been released for screening, starring Gerard Butler and Michelle Monaghan.
Directed by Marc Forster, who worked on films “Monster’s Ball” and “Finding Neverland,” the film’s first few scenes capture the attention of the audience. The extreme violence and danger of the conflict in Sudan is demonstrated to the audience, with a child seized and forced to bludgeon his own mother in a tear-jerking scene.
The protagonist, Sam Childers, is a reformed criminal and drug user. After his wife Lynn helps him find God, Childers, played by Butler, is compelled to offer his construction skills to a relief organization in Africa.
Childers’ drastic transformation is portrayed in the film very quickly, even for Hollywood, but Butler’s performance is especially powerful when he returns to the home of his former associates in the drug world to rescue his heroin-addicted friend.
Upon arriving in Sudan, Childers is told it is not a tourist destination, but a warzone. He realizes the dire need for safety and care of Sudanese children who are orphaned, kidnapped and forced to become soldiers.
Claiming to hear the voice of God, Childers builds a church in his hometown near Allentown, Penn. and also an orphanage in Sudan. He wrestles with his faith in God and how to cope with the violence, and after contemplating suicide, decides to continue his cause for the Sudanese children.
During a firefight, the orphanage is destroyed and Childers calls his wife to tell her that he is giving up on the effort. Her devout faith in God is moving, and she tells her husband that it is a test and that he must persevere, that his calling is from God to provide for the Sudanese children.
Controversy ensues as Childers provides vital care for the children but also participates in the violence of the area, even killing.
Founder of the Angels of East Africa Rescue, the actual 49-year-old Sam Childers appears at the end of the “Machine Gun Preacher.” He poses a question to the audience, hypothesizing that, in the event of a lost child or loved one, would it matter how they were returned to you- meant to insinuate killing and sin would be involved. The chilling ending leaves you wondering about his determination.
“Machine Gun Preacher” will hit select theaters in the U.S. September 23 and the U.K. November 18.